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Lack of sleep 'can make kids obese as adults'

Parents, please ensure that your child gets adequate sleep daily, for a new study has suggested that toddlers who don't get enough shut-eye are more likely to be obese as adults.

world Updated: Nov 04, 2008 16:30 IST

Parents, please ensure that your child gets adequate sleep daily, for a new study has suggested that toddlers who don't get enough shut-eye are more likely to be obese as adults.

An international team, led by University of Otago, has carried out the study that found a link between lack of sleep during childhood and adult obesity, the 'Pediatrics' journal reported in its latest edition.

"Although the importance of getting a good night's sleep in both children and adults is well known, this is the first study to show that the effects of short sleep time in childhood may've long lasting implications for adult obesity.

"It is not clear why lack of sleep might lead to weight gain, but experimental studies have shown that sleep deprivation may disrupt the hormones that regulate appetite," lead author Erik Landhuis said.

In their study, the researchers followed more than 1,000 children born in New Zealand between 1972 and 1973. They found that kids who spent less time in bed between ages five and 11 years had higher Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) as adults and were significantly more likely to be obese.

The researchers were able to rule out early signs of obesity, socio-economic factors, parental control, television watching, and a parental history of obesity as some possible explanations for the results.

In fact, according to Landhuis, worldwide trends show a significant reduction in kid's sleep times over the last 30 years.

"This decrease in average sleep duration has coincided with increasing rates of adult obesity. Our findings indicate that ensuring adequate sleep time in childhood may play an important part in the prevention of adult obesity," he said.